ECJ ruling could lead to change in UK laws

A European Court of Justice ruling that forcing staff to surrender
collective bargaining rights is a breach of human rights, could lead to a
change in employment laws in the UK.

The court ruled in favour of two workers who claimed their employer had
broken European employment laws by forcing them to sign away union bargaining
rights and accept lower pay rises.

The court judgement stated: "Employees should be free to instruct or permit
the union to make representations to their employer. If workers are prevented
from doing so, the freedom to belong to a trade union becomes illusory."

Nathan Millard, an employment lawyer at Morgan Cole, said legislation in the
Employment Relations Act 1999 already includes some protection for the
collective bargaining rights of staff but the ECJ ruling could lead to changes
when the act is reviewed.

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said the implications
of the ECJ decision would be considered during the forthcoming consultation on
the review of the Employment Relations Act.

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